The defilement of the dead (Ezek 44:25-44:27)

“‘They shall not defile


By getting near

To a dead person.


They may defile


For a father,

For a mother,

For a son,

For a daughter,

For a brother,

Or for an unmarried sister.

After he has become clean,

They shall count

Seven days for him.

Then he shall be clean.

On the day

That he goes

Into the holy place,

Into the inner court,

To minister

In the holy place,

He shall offer

His sin offering.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh God told Ezekiel what to do about the Zadok Levitical priests who defiled themselves by going near a dead person. They were not supposed to go close to a dead person. However, there were occasions when these priests could go near a dead person, and thus, defile themselves. In particular, this usually meant a close family member, a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother, or an unmarried sister. Yet they would have to become clean again. They would have to wait 7 days before they could be clean. Then they would have to offer a sin offering for themselves in the holy place.

The false worship of the dead (Wis 14:15-14:16)

“A father,

Consumed with grief

At an untimely bereavement,

Made an image of his child,

Who had been suddenly taken from him.

Now he honored him as a god,

What was once a dead human being.

He handed on to his dependents

Secret rites

With initiations.

Then the ungodly custom,

Grown strong with time,

Was kept as a law.

At the command of monarchs

Carved images were worshiped.”

This is an attempt to show how the development of the worship of dead came about. It seems like it all started out when a father (πατήρ) lost his son prematurely. He made an image of his dead child, but then he honored him as god (ὡς Θεὸν). He then handed down to his dependents mysterious secret rituals with various initiation sacrificial ceremonies (μυστήρια καὶ τελετά). This ungodly custom later became a law (ὡς νόμος), so that even monarchs wanted carved images worshipped.